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fear – no place to hide (part 1)

Recently, I watched Monsters University – yep I know, late comer to that party! Mike, the loveable green eyeball, identifies his life ambition is to be a scarer. The monster that jumps out of your cupboard, creeps up from under your bed or creates those weird shadows on the wall. All this monitored and measured by the amount of screams generated.

Each of us has our own crew of monsters. They really enjoy the status quo and what it offers them but pop-up and surprise us, when we’re trying to add some stretch in our lives.

These monsters create a place to hide and stop you achieving by generating fear. They remove the certainty that nothing unexpected is going to happen. They prevent the risk of failure. They ensure no-one points their fingers and judges your decisions or direction.

They want to paralyse you. They want to keep you firmly in your current patterns of behaviour, performing your habitual tasks and routines.

Why? They’re comfortable and allowing you to change, grow and develop means them getting uncomfortable and ultimately, reduced to being memories.

Fear is a complex beast – if only it were as simple as making sure the curtains are properly closed and that final check under the bed before switching off the light. Some fears require counselling to release them, others can be transformed through positive coaching and some by investing your time and efforts in seeking solutions.

Here’s 4 strategies that I deploy when the monsters sneak up:

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

The first time for anything is scary. The second time is a bit more predictable and by the third it’s starting to come more naturally. How?

  • repeat the skills: a talented musician undertakes their show piece in its totality AND in its smaller components, whether a tricky phrase or a difficult fingering.
  • get an audience: ok, you can’t necessarily get in front of the actual people, but I’m sure you can find a friend or peer who will “sit” in and play your audience for you. They can do it nicely or they can play it mean, moody or emotional – whatever helps you build your best performance.

Experiencing something helps build your confidence, answer any concerns and can grow your motivation.

2. Worse possible outcome

Our imaginations are powerful tools, when they work for us. When they work against us, they can create not just monsters, but terrible disasters. We picture ourselves caught out, making fools of ourselves, laughter or screams ringing in our ears. You need to change the film genre. How?

  • make it a comedy: in this new version, you get to dress the characters in costume, change the scenery and location, add a twist with a rainstorm, add some new actors. Importantly, you get to make the outcome side-achingly funny.
  • make it a kid’s movie: this time the plot gets simplified. Strip out complexity by seeing it with a child’s eyes and knowledge. Words spoken are easier to understand, body language hides nothing and our perspective is altered – solutions appear and helpers drop in resulting in a happy ending.

Or pick your favourite genre, what ploys and story lines norms shift your rotten tomato reviewed film into a blockbuster?

3. Small steps

Fear sometimes comes from a sense of overwhelm – the change or stretch you want being just toooooo much for you. Imagine your goal and all it requires of you as a giant buffet. There’s dips and chips, there’s all sorts of colourful salads, then further along come the pastas and the fill ’em up items – fish, meat and carb-alicious potatoes and breads. Next up are the bakes. Then cakes, trifles, fruits all accomplished by juices, smoothies, waters, teas and more.

No-one can eat it all in one sitting or on their own – yep not even you, Ms or Mr Superhero! Take a plate and plan your first portion – pick something you know. Eat and digest. Pick a bowl, use your chopsticks, fingers or a fork. Be brave – go spicy!

Apply this principle to your goal. What are the different elements? What are you familiar with? What requires a little more effort or skill to complete? Where do you need to be a bit braver?

4. Recognise your progress

The best fear killer I know. Celebrate your successes. Big ones. Small ones. Let me share a personal and current example I’m working on.

In June, I’m launching an afternoon co-working event. My fear? That it will be a giant flop. No-one will come and those who do will hate each other, never to attend again!

Over the weekend, I found my venue. It’s perfect. High speed wifi, easy to get to, amazing menu and a quirky, upbeat vibe. What did I do? I had a little celebration on Facebook – check out those cakes!

Several people wrote me messages about attending. Others said how great the place looked. And my fears got squished – maybe not totally gone, but already smaller and less powerful.

What’s your fear and how are you going to bring it out of hiding this week? Share your fear killers, new movies and successes in the comments.

PS Interested in joining me in June? Watch out for more updates on Facebook by liking my page.

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make more of your time – 7 ways to get things done

One of the challenges I often hear is how to get everything done in the day. Wouldn’t it be great if there was one juicy thing you could do to make it all fit? Sadly, I don’t have one to offer you in this b-mail. Instead, I’ve got 7 ways to get more done in your week.

1. Manage your priorities

Know the story of the rocks, pebbles, gravel and water in a jar? (quick video here) Recognise your biggest priorities (rocks) and schedule them into your day or week, followed by the next most important (pebbles), next most (gravel) and finally the least important (water).

Are you clear on your priorities and do you stick to them? Or do you flex around others’ priorities? Do you skip the gym to meet a work deadline or go to bed late to fit in baking a cake for tomorrow’s outing? Flexing makes you a great person to be around, but you’ll end up with a jar full of water and no pebbles, rocks or gravel in it!

2.  Create your combo deal

Some things go well together – strawberries and cream, gin and tonic and more. Where does this apply in your life?

I encourage my physical rehab clients to double up on daily tasks and exercises, like doing their stretches or strength exercises whilst the kettle boils, the shower heats up or the adverts are on. I also combine time with my partner and getting out of the city – we ride our tandem past the lavender farm, up to a hilly lookout with a café and stop off for a chat over coffee (and cake 🙂 ).

3. Value your “me time”

Whether that’s a night out with friends or reading a good book – to be the best you possible, you need to recharge your batteries. It’s easy to skip these re-energising times to do other things. Try time-boxing them (set and diarise a specific time slot). I’d also encourage a spot of focussed breathing or meditation into your day to refresh your mind.

4. Eat your frogs first

Mark Twain once said:

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse

will happen to you the rest of the day.”

If you have something unpleasant, boring or complex to do, get it out the way first. Bookkeeping is my frog – if I don’t tackle it first, I find my motivation drops, I’m easily distracted and it seems to haunt my every move. Identify your frogs and gobble them up first. Yum. (Read Brian Tracy’s book / blog  or get the Eat that Frog app to learn more about this one.)

5. Go off-line

You all know I love my tech and gadgets, but from time to time, I have to admit that I do get more done if I turn off the wifi and phone. True, checking my social media feeds or my emails is necessary to running my business (and my social life too at times!). It is false to think that I “must” do it the instant that “ping” goes off.

Switch off notifications or sounds, download a distraction tool or find a signal deadzone.

6. Rack up some cheats

Ever watched Jamie’s 15-minute meals? Follow his lead and keep your cupboards or freezer stocked with your quick, healthy meal essentials. Create a basic shopping list on your online supermarket to quickly order the basics in one click.

You can also do this with work or exercise tasks. Create reusable templates (fill in the blanks ones work well) to help with repeated tasks and mix in online mini workouts to meet your fitness goals (check out HIIT Daily or Pilates On Demand).

Alternatively, split bigger tasks up into little short ones to spread across the week. Need to prepare your guest room for Friday night? Either spend a crazy hour on Friday running around before greeting your guests or split it into 10-15 minute tasks. (e.g. Monday: launder the bed linen, Tuesday: dust, Wednesday: hoover, Thursday: make the bed and put out towels, Friday: add fresh flowers and relax.)

7. Say no nicely

By saying “yes”, we’re often served a big portion of “feel good” – a positive affirmation of how wonderful we are – with a side serving of time hijack – the time we lose to do what we really want or need to do. Combine your “no” with “thank you”, explain the consequences or personal challenge of the request or invite and whenever possible offer an alternative (new time or date, different event or approach). This one definitely takes practice, but do perist. It’s golden.

Right that’s the lot. My final thought: All that said, sometimes we need to be able to breathe and accept that day has gotten away from us. The unexpected twists and turns some days take can bring you new learning, new opportunities and a heap of fun!

7 ways to get more done and 7 days to try them before the next b-mail is out. Shout out your success with them in the comments or tell us how you get more done than the average Joe.

If nothing is working and you are in overwhelm, needing help to identify your priorities, frogs or best you – drop me a line and I’d be delighted to help as these are common coaching issues, which I’ve helped clients to resolve.

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Get ready for your new year: Decode 2013

Time for the second part of our 4 part debriefing and planning process to ensure your 2014 meets your hopes and ambitions. Were you able to take that little bit of “me time” to reflect fondly on how 2013 has been for you? If that slot hasn’t come up yet – schedule it now, along with time to do the second worksheet. You can download worksheet 1 – “Goodbye 2013” below in the bullet list.

To recap the full series, the 4 worksheets are:

Your cheesy grin inducing and tear jerking review of 2013 in worksheet 1 provides you with the raw data to now decode in this week’s worksheet. In this one, you’ll find a set of exercises to unpick, demystify and analyse 2013, as well as start to contrast it with your 2014 aspirations.

Download your worksheet here: Get_ready_for_your_new_year_Decode_2013

By the end of this wondersheet (yes I made that up and I like it!), you’ll have the building blocks and 2014 vision for our third instalment next week…..I can hardly wait….

When you get to the end of the worksheet, why not post your final exercise’s outcome? I’d love to see how your 2014 is shaping up! Either drop a note in the comments here or hop over to Facebook and share a photo.

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ditch distractions and get focused! part 1

You know I love sharing skills, techniques and the like with others to enrich their lives. I ensure participants leave with new knowledge AND ways to use their learning immediately.

But, sometimes they get distracted, even when they reeeeaalllllyyy want the change and all its goodness.

Our brains are buzzing away with all sorts of stuff – important info, funny anecdotes, facts and figures, calendar appointments and deadlines, and the list goes on. Then add in the complexity of our modern world lives – work, family, friends, fun and the list gets longer. Then add in the connectivity we enjoy – email, smartphones, Twitter, Facebook and all the rest……..

You still reading? Did your email just ping? Text messages ping?

Hey, back here please. Thank you 🙂

To keep distraction at bay, I believe you need to create a habit around your change activity and to get super clear on your “why”. These are tooo juicy to cover both in one b-mail, so more on clarifying your why in next week. Here’s an example of how a habit can help.

When I’m teaching a Pilates class, regardless of my students’ abilities or experience, my habit is to start with 3 standing roll downs and to end with one.

Why? 2 reasons. It helps them and it helps me stop the distractions and focus in on what we’re doing.

The first 3 roll downs get everyone’s heads out of whatever happened for them before the class. You know what it’s like getting to leave work on time, squeezing in that final task and then the joys of public transport at rush hour! Yuk! It also acts as a check of our status quo – tense neck muscles, stiff lower lumbers, engaging their cores and allowing our breathing to flow to our lower ribs.

The final roll down is to close the session and our learning, to release us into our next activity. It also serves as a “review” of their progress over the hour. Are they moving more smoooooothly? Can they breathe a bit deeper? For me, I also add in “are they wearing a big fat grin to see them through their week?”.

And in that hour, they’ve focused on their bodies, breathing and movements and added some stretch into their lives. Distractions? What distractions?

I want to get personal – what habits can you build about your change activities? Let’s look at a few different types of change to give you some inspiration.

Fit in a run 3 times a week: habits could include putting your trainers and shorts out just before bedtime, timing yourself each time to check your improvement and a hot, invigorating shower afterwards.

Growing your online network: planning time for tweets and posts of your insights, learning or news items and additional time to read and enjoy others’ content. Be sure to comment and contribute to blogs and groups. Why not, set yourself a weekly target number of actions?

Study a course module: using the same, specific notebook and pen each session, starting with a “parking lot” (a list of all those things buzzing in your head – get them out and parked on the page) and setting a measurable outcome (like what chapter to get through, what you’ll be able to recall, or the application of your learning at the end of the session).

Now your turn, what habits can you build into your change activities to stop the distractions? Use the comments to let us know what they are AND how they help focus you on achieving your change activities.

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out of inspiration – kickstart your mojo

I spent some of my time today surfing around online and reading emails instead of writing this b-mail. Why? I needed inspiration and there it was, I knew what to write about. How to get unstuck when you’re lacking inspiration.

Whether you’re wanting to get on with your day to day or strategize how you want to shape your life longer term, you’ll need some. You’re asked to write a comms piece at work or have friends coming to dinner – ouch mental block – a spot of Googling might just pop up the answer.

However the long term game is a bit different. Career change, such as switching to a new path, starting your own enterprise, or a life change, like ending a relationship or improving your fitness can need a different type of inspiration to take you from vague idea to achievable, exciting action.

First off, don’t sweat it. Inspiration will come.

Next, where do you usually get your inspiration from? Try those old faithful sources. No joy?

Sometimes, you need to try something out of your norm to get new, fresh results. Edward de Bono (yes him of the 6 hats fame) talks about stepping outside your rivers of thinking. Picture a mountain with several routes for water to flow down it – the water is going to take the easiest option and soon a wide valley is created. But around the edges are little streams, creeks and brooks – the route less travelled. Add a dam and the water seeks a new or alternative routes.

Your brain is just the same – gazillions of neural pathways exist and the ones most regularly travelled become wider and stronger, just like the river. By switching your inspiration method, tool or source, you create a new pathway and like any muscle, with use, it will grow stronger.

So, please have a borrow from some of my favourites. For small ‘a-ha’s of inspiration, check out:

  • pinterest – for words or pictures of wisdom and why not create a board of the thing you’re seeking to achieve?
  • brainpickings – a collection of great thinkers, presented in an easy to read visual format
  • twitter – a short sharp blast of exciting things from people you admire, desire, idolise, add you own word here
  • flick through an old book or two – you know the ones you could hardly put down and reminisce
  • change your workspace – clear the clutter, sit in the bath, face the window or go somewhere else
  • go for a walk – whether to grab a coffee or juice or around the nearest park, take 30 minutes out and try to really take in the sights, sound and smells
  • dance it out – stop, put some music on and do your happy dance, best dad dance, birdy dance….whatever comes to get your blood pumping in time with your songs

And now the big ones:

  • free writing – grab a favourite pen and a big piece of paper, then write. Anything. Pour it all out. No editing. Everything is valid. Let your mind wander until it strikes gold
  • ask a friend to teach you something they’re passionate about – knitting, a new recipe or a mediation technique. All good.
  • write yourself a letter – explain what you’re trying to do and what you need to get going
  • create a perfect patchwork role model of future you (or future job, house, body, etc.) from your various heros and heroines. Let me give you an example, you might want a fitness patchwork you based Jess Ennis-Hill’s abs with Laura Trott’s post race glow (how does she do it!?!) or your new career path might be stitched together from the atmosphere at your favourite coffee bar, a crowd of likeminded people and your personal favourite work items
  • seek others’ perspective – develop a list of questions you need answering and interview people who are doing what you want (or similar), those who have a “stake” in your change (your best mate, your mentor or your bank manager) AND anyone who can add a totally different point of view (your nemesis job holder, your overseas pen pal or a potential customer)
  • and breathe – you don’t need to do it all at once and the best made plans need to flex and grow over time to deliver the most amazing results possible

This week, I’d love you to flex your muscle, try out some new inspirations – go and dive into a new river – plus please share your best ones with us in the comments. I’d love some new dance tunes or a great book or person to stalk…I mean follow….. ahem 😉

  • David

    I’d suggest getting off the computer for a bit lol! Have a coffee with a friend – someone who is clever and independent and let them draw out from you what is already there. Because it is.

    • Sarae

      Hello David!
      You’re right, many of us are in technology overload with our computers, tablet devices, smartphones and the like on all the time.

      I love your sense that everyone is resourceful and can provide from within – a key belief I hold true as a coach.

      Thanks for commenting!

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